Lucky Gunner Shoot – Day One Photos

Here’s a gallery of some of the photos I managed to take at the Lucky Gunner event. I have annotated them the best I can, but there are some things I don’t recognize or perhaps some things I have gotten wrong. If you can identify a piece, please let me know. I am not an expert on artillery, particularly, nor tanks and especially not half-tracks. Feel free to error check on anything I mentioned or name in the pictures.

Lucky Gunner Shoot – Day One

After arriving into the Knoxville area around 1AM last night, and not being totally sure of what kind of event Lucky Gunner had in store for us, I arrived to the event this morning not knowing quite what to expect. Turns out Lucky Gunner got us into an invitational machine gun shoot event known as Bullet Fest, and I think it worked quite well. I quite enjoyed myself for the first day, getting to shoot a wide variety of machine guns. As far as entertainment events, there were World War II and Civil War re-enactors present, and some of them brought fun toys like a half track all decked out in machine guns, and two World War II era tanks shooting live ammunition. You can tell this type of event is basically an excuse for rich guys to bring out their favorite toys. The organizer was getting frustrated with one of the tanks turned loose on the range, and wanted to get him out of there, but he was having a good old time. I guess if you own a tank, there’s not much opportunity to drive around a ranges smashing cars and shooting live ammunition, so you get as much in as you can. The Knox County Sheriff’s department also brought their UH-1 “Huey” helicopter and landed it in a parking spot for the amusement of spectators. That was pretty neat too, though I’m probably not the only one who is disappointing they didn’t rake downrange with machine gun fire from the helo. Turns out they only use the Huey for search and rescue.

Anyway, back to the important stuff, machine guns. What did I shoot?

  • M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle, or BAR. Anyone who’s a World War II history buff knows of this weapon. I had figured being a 30-06 full auto, it would be murderous to shoot, but given the gun’s weight, the recoil is quite manageable. I have a lot of respect for the guys that slugged these things around Europe. At 22 pounds, I’d hate to be that guy.
  • M1919 Browning Machine Gun, .30 caliber. This is a water cooled model, and runs about 40 grand if you want one for yourself. Before I shot it, a round cooked off in the chamber indicating the water reservoir was empty. I had heard you can piss in the water reservoir in a pinch, but happily, a jug was handy. I was supposed to limit myself on ammo, but got a bit carried away. They had to tap me on the shoulder to get me to stop. I feel bad about that. But damn, it was a lot of fun.
  • MP40 9mm submachine gun, predecessor to the MP5, of World War II vintage on the German side. I would have believed this gun was firing blanks. It’s highly controllable with very little recoil or muzzle climb.
  • M3 submachine gun, .45ACP. Much like its German counterpart, highly controllable and tame. A joy to shoot.
  • M14 battle rifle, 7.62x51mm NATO. This is a gun that should never be used except on semi-auto. Full auto fire is brutal and essentially spray and pray. An AK-47 is considerably more controllable.
  • HK91 battle rifle. More controllable than the M14, but still pretty brutal on full auto.
  • AK-47, the real thing. More controllable than I would have thought. The cyclic rate is slow enough the muzzle has time to come back down under its own weight. You don’t have to fight it as much as I would have thought.
  • M16A1. You would think from firing an AR that the M16 would be relatively tame. It’s quite controllable, but it definitely pushes back a bit more than you would think.

Tomorrow Kriss is going to let us demo some of their new toys. They have representatives that have flown all the way from Switzerland. I didn’t even know they were a Swiss company, but it looks like they are. The Kriss is Swiss technology.

I thank Lucky Gunner for generously supplying us with ammunition and putting all this together. It’s not every day when beautiful women come up, hand you a menu of ammunition that’s available, and bring you whatever you want to the firing line.

Brian Aitken Interview

I’ve been meaning to listen to this for a couple of days, but just got around to putting it on as background to working on random projects. Brian Aitken did an interview with Sam Adams Alliance to talk about his arrest, and this portion gives the basic story with a focus on why he turned down several plea bargains.

Take a minute to listen: Brian Aitken Interview

A Reminder on Different Priorities

The poll that remains up for this week’s NRA-ILA poll of activists is a stark reminder that not all of our fellow gun owners have the same priorities:

More than a quarter of the respondents don’t even have a concealed carry license. And only 3% believe that their names have been published. Considering that most papers who publish those databases do so for the entire state, the number is likely much, much higher than 3%. Even though I never saw it, I know my information was published by the Roanoke paper in Virginia.

Keep in mind, this is a poll not only of people who are members of NRA, but care enough to sign up for the ILA weekly grassroots alerts. And not just that subset, but people who care enough to actually click through and take the poll. So, on one hand, it’s not a perfectly representative sample. On the other hand, it does show that even among those who are passionate about the issue, our interests vary – and we shouldn’t throw those with other ideas under the bus if we can still bring them along in the broader fight for our rights.

Off to the Lucky Gunner Shoot

I’m on my way to head down to Knoxville for the Lucky Gunner Memorial Day shooty shindig. Unfortunately, because the drive takes 10 hours, I won’t be able to make it to any of the Friday pre-events.

I’m taking two ARs, my Glock 19, and Kel-Tec P-3AT. I’ll have to stop before entering the People’s Republic of Maryland since it is the only state along the way where my carry permit is not valid. We’re really going to have to fix that at some point.

Technology Transitions Gun-Related Purchases

It’s not a shocker to anyone who regularly reads blogs, but I thought a few of these questions & answers with the CEO of Cabela’s were interesting on the shift of how they sell over the last 5 decades:

Q. Cabela’s started as a catalog company and then added retail stores and online shopping. What’s the future mix?
A: The common thread that runs through our 50 years is an absolutely maniacal approach to customer service. Being the best at customer service has simply taken us where the customer wanted us to go. … So where our (sales) channels go in the future, our customers tell us and we will follow them there. We listen.”

Q. What are you hearing now?
A: Email, as you and I know it, has become less and less relevant to the generation in high school and college, and maybe just out of college. For that generation, it’s all about social media and texting. … Plugging into that stream will be the next thing. We track it. We’re on Facebook. We have more than 600,000 Facebook fans. We’re involved with Twitter.

Q. How important is the printed catalog in 2011?
A: The catalog is becoming less of a shopping vehicle and more of a prompt to get all of us to go to the Internet. There’s less density there about product specifications. It’s more informational. How to use something. It’s all designed to pique your interest and get you to come to the Internet, where you can see the full array of everything we have to offer.

The interview also addresses some questions about why Cabela’s is opting for smaller stores and other business-type issues. It’s an interesting little peek at the company, even if not the most detailed.

Several years ago, I started to notice that I only viewed catalogs in order to get an idea of what to look for on a website. I don’t read or view those two things in the same way, so it was sometimes helpful to find things I might not otherwise have considered. But now we just toss the catalogs completely. I’m pretty sure the only catalog I’ve thought about in the last year was for Godiva, but that was simply because I was part of a nearly year-long focus group.


I wish I were an EVC for districts like NUGUN‘s region. One of his state legislators just posted pictures of himself sighting in his rifle. Seriously, jealous. He also posts range photos on his campaign page.


I guess I just have more work to do.

Redistricting Maps – Setting Political Legacies a Decade at a Time

You want to know what the big news for gun rights is this year? It’s not any one lawsuit. It’s not any single election. It’s redistricting. At its roots, redistricting is about setting the likely political landscape for the next decade.

At the federal level, Pennsylvania will lose one of our pro-gun Democrats. Why does this matter to those of you who don’t live here or don’t live specifically in one of the districts that will be chopped? Remember those 65 House Democrats who spoke up and told the Obama administration that they will not stand for a gun ban? Aside from all of those we lost in the November elections, we just lost another one.

Illinois Democrats accidentally left their redistricting maps open last night, so now we know what’s on the table in the Prairie State – it’s not pretty for the GOP. The Cook Political Report House guy said this on Twitter: “First impression…this is the real deal Dem gerrymander, not weak sauce.” On the gun issue, here’s the NRA grade breakdown of merged GOP districts:

  • Rep. Schock – A vs. Rep. Schilling – A
  • Rep. Biggert – A vs. Rep. Roskam – A
  • Rep. Walsh – A vs. Rep. Hultgren – A-
  • Rep. Dold – ? vs. Rep. Schakowsky – F
  • Rep. Kinzinger – A vs. Rep. Jackson – F
  • Rep. Shimkus – A vs. Rep. Johnson – A

In other words, four seats that merge two A- or higher rated lawmakers, and one that puts an A against an F. That’s not good when it comes to the Illinois delegation.

At the state level, many states will see the balance of political power shift. Here in the Keystone State, the Philadelphia suburbs will require a boatload of new districts while the Southwest will see a lot of their longtime lawmakers pitted against one another as the district lines are redrawn with dramatically fewer seats in that area. The Philly suburbs are already the key to power on the gun issue since neither side can win without at least some suburban lawmaker support. Based on what I saw in census numbers, the suburbs will basically control the policies. That’s why we have made it a goal to convert more borderline legislative supporters into those who give a damn.

Those elections? They have consequences. These consequences just happen to last for 10 years.

Scraps for the Underlings

An Open Letter to District of Columbia Parents with Children in Public Schools

Dear Parents,

When are you guys going to stand up and demand a better life for your children? Do you actually want to hold any of your elected leaders accountable for, oh, anything? Because that’s the first step in no longer making a better life not only for your kids, but for yourselves.

Take the scallion incident. Kids in the SE part of the city (the city’s poorest) were served raw green onions as part of the federal government’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program that cost us $1.2 million. Now the idea of giving kids a free fruit or vegetable is a noble one. I’m not going to get into a debate on spending issues since I suspect you and I would disagree on many of those topics. But, where I hope we can agree is on the fact that if we’re taking $1.2 million from taxpayers, that it should be spent on fruits and vegetables that children (and adults, for that matter) will actually eat instead of raw onions that will be thrown in the garbage.

There should be accountability here. Instead, the food service provider is dodging questions to both its leadership and the dietician on staff. I’m sorry, but there should be no excuse. If that dietician is charged with making sure your kids eat healthy food provided by the school, the company should have an open door policy to his or her office. These are your children, and the adults who carry the responsibility of caring for them during the day should not be allowed to hide from the public.

The school district is covering for the food service provider. They say that they are confident it was a one-time mistake and there was no big deal. If you care about your children, you need to tell them that making excuses isn’t good enough – and possibly research any political or friendly ties between the company and the District. If this happened in my poor school district in rural Oklahoma, parents would be at school board meetings demanding some kind of action. It might be as extreme as cutting the contract if there were other issues in the past. It also might be simply demanding some sort of restitution from the food service provider. According to the article, school staff had to scrounge up apples from their other supplies to provide the snack. That costs money for the apples and money for the staff time to do the job the contractor did not do. Force your school leaders to demand concessions, a statement, an open door policy when it comes to the contractor’s staff who make diet decisions for the school menus, and a plan of action to make sure these kinds of mistakes don’t happen again.

I’ll never understand the attitude that District residents seem to take with their leaders – that they will allow them to walk all over the citizens and treat them like crap. Serving raw scallions as a snack would not be tolerated in any of the wealthier schools & surrounding districts. Why do you allow your leaders to treat you and your children like this and then let them slide?

Just a few helpful suggestions from someone who thinks your kids deserve better.


NRA’s Statement on the Paul Amendment

Via E-Mail:

As often happens with complex issues, NRA’s position on Sen. Rand Paul’s defeated PATRIOT Act amendment is being mis-reported by those who either don’t understand the facts, or prefer their own version of “facts.”

This amendment was rejected by 85 Senators, which included many of the strongest Second Amendment supporters in the U.S. Senate.  Unfortunately, Senator Paul chose not to approach us on this issue before moving ahead. His amendment, which only received 10 votes, was poorly drafted and could have resulted in more problems for gun owners than it attempted to fix. For this reason, the NRA did not take a position on the amendment.

To be more specific about the amendment and its problems, the amendment would have prohibited use of PATRIOT Act legal authority for any “investigation or procurement of firearms records which is not authorized under [the Gun Control Act].” There have been no reports of the current PATRIOT Act being abused with respect to firearms records, however supporters suggested a far-fetched scenario in which every firearms sales record in the country–tens or hundreds of millions of documents dating back to 1968–could be sought.  Again, we nor anyone else is aware of any case in which this authority has been used to abuse gun owners.  (In fact, published reports indicate that few of these orders are ever sought for any reason.)

In particular, the amendment appeared to be aimed at so-called “section 215 letters”–orders from the FBI requiring the disclosure of “tangible things” such as records and documents.

Under the current PATRIOT Act, an application for this type of order with respect to firearms sales records has to be approved no lower than the director or deputy director of the FBI, or the Executive Assistant Director for National Security.  The application is made to a federal judge based on “a statement of facts showing that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the tangible things sought are relevant to an authorized investigation … to obtain foreign intelligence information not concerning a United States person or to protect against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities.”  The judge has the power to modify the order and must direct the use of “minimization procedures” to protect the privacy of Americans.
If the Paul amendment were adopted, the FBI would have used other ways to access whatever firearms records it might need for intelligence or anti-terrorism investigations. This is especially troublesome for gun owners.

This would result in United States Attorneys simply demanding the same records through grand jury subpoenas, which require no judicial approval before issuance. Fighting a subpoena after the fact can be very costly and carries legal risks of its own, including possible charges for obstruction of justice.

Even worse, the government would have used the Gun Control Act’s provision that allows the Attorney General to “inspect or examine the inventory and records of [a licensee] without … reasonable cause or warrant” during a criminal investigation.  That means by simply characterizing its activities as a “criminal investigation,” it would enter a licensee’s premises and demand these records without “reasonable cause or warrant”–in other words, without judicial oversight of any kind, and without any of the procedural limits imposed by the PATRIOT Act.

Therefore, given all of these potential problems for gun owners, the NRA could not support this poorly drafted amendment.

One reason I didn’t pay much attention to the Paul Amendment was because it seemed like trying to fix an issue that didn’t really exist. What NRA appears to be worried about, if I may read the tea leaves a bit, is that this is just going to give the feds ideas, while still leaving open many other, much easier channels by which they could accomplish the same thing. In other words, it would appear that the Paul Amendment wouldn’t actually fix anything.